Last night the sky was a child
coughing into a blanket, drawing
itself from a pale aurora jabbed
with another storm on the sun,
as if it’s got a circle of old friends
jumping tombstones. There might
have been a tribe of younger stars
dropping empty green rose-stems
through our curtains. Except last
night the child slipped its ghost
and stretched the sunrise against
the river trees.
Last night the sky was a child
You always want it to make sense,
Like knucklebones, like how swallowing works.
Simple eye of mechanics developed
Over millions of years of failure. Humans
Are the success of their failure time and time again.
That’s whats truly alien. Truly unnatural
As the sky opens up, the black roll of stars, planets –
Some like necks on the gallows, some like an arena stage.
The maw is the medicine with death as a common side effect.
Then, nothing makes sense. Its a fugue state, lips dripping
Words over delayed relays. Mission specialists
Still sitting in Ohio struck mud like American-made pigs,
while you snort down wildlife powder and hope the TOG adaptions
They gave you don’t go liquid in your stomach. Survival
Rates of surgery in orbit aren’t what they used to be.
You, your own scalpel and organ donor, doctor, and lawyer.
The cowbird cares only for her own
propagation. Nest-stealer, child-trader.
A clutch of brown-spotted eggs
sheltered elsewhere. The cowbird
merely uses what others have created.
Others raise her children.
Others feed her young.
If her child stabs a fragile fledging
from the colonized species
with a beak that hungers for more,
this is no injustice. The cowbird is not evil.
Survival is a promise of life, not a tragedy
I stumble over oak roots
on my fat trek down to the lake,
ignore jingling ice cream vendors,
Dunkin’ Donuts shops, Krispy
Rorschach patterns on my back,
I stop for water at a tactile
stone bubbler, not distracted
by the lemonade fountains,
root beer floats or sugared
hyacinth teas and I avoid
I-HOP for lunch.
A coterie of chick-a-dees
in my maple tree.
A tribe of constellations
in the rising night.
before broken bread.
Circles of poets
from inspiration rooms.
They say salt
was once so precious
that soldiers were paid in it—a salary.
A common, bitter thing
I add salt’s tear-tang to the dough
and feel my wrist and bicep work
(the ingredients of my life
are not measurable things
though I feel them pulse just out of sight)
now I see the sight I always see
out the kitchen window
as I knead and knead and knead
How did this happen?
Did the poet really say she hates commas –
on a lake on a wind-free day or
stepping stones so even your foot
takes for granted a perfect landing
until your ankle turns a way
it was never meant to
and you must wait by the lake
to watch water rinse pebbles
after you cut
down the dead
the field yawns
and gives for the first
time in twenty years
of red beyond the shuddering
metal and wood teeth
the remains of man’s work
no life except
a gray body
shell of hollow skin
Because (in part) a disgraced president invented the EPA
rockfish and croakers have returned to the Chesapeake Bay,
and new life frolics at the mouth of Baltimore’s river.
Beneath the silent bows of sailboats on the Patapsco
rarely seen dolphins ride waves like metallic rainbows,
the silvery curves of their bodies stitching clear skies
to the blueness of gently roiling waters.
Who could imagine such a fantastical outcome?
Clubs you like a rank bludgeon,
it does. It’s in the hallways, waiting
at the elevator doors. Smell
like an elbow bent six years
and peeled open. Shelled
spongy scruff, a man-shed oyster
that stink, like the sea’s,
is rich with promise. It’s not all
charnel. On every tide an elegance
of power in skaters
fast as gulls and as fierce.